November can seem a long, dark month, the clocks have changed, bonfire night throws some sparkle on what can be an otherwise dark, dank dreary month. Time for heart warming comfort food, long slow melt in the mouth casseroles, pudding, custard and soups.

This is what I’ve been making in November…

coconut dhal topped with roasted vegetables

Coconut Dhal with Roasted Vegetables

This is a delicious dhal, we like it with lots of extra roasted vegetables.

Serves 4

200g yellow split peas

100g split red lentils

½ tsp ground turmeric

½ tsp ground cumin

1 coconut milk

1 can water

Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)

  1. Put all the above ingredients in a pan with a lid. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 40mins, or until the yellow split peas are tender.

I medium onion, chopped

2 large tomatoes, chopped

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

1 cm piece of root ginger, grated

1 tsp black onion seeds

1 tsp oil

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy based pan, add the onion seeds and when they begin to pop, add the onion, garlic and ginger. Stir and cook for a few minutes, then add the tomato. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10mins.

½ butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes

4 medium beetroot, topped, tailed and cut into wedges

1 small head broccoli, floretted

1 tbsp oil

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6, put the squash and beetroot into a roasting tin, season with salt & pepper and drizzle over 1 tbsp oil. Cook for approx. 30mins or until tender.
  2. Place the broccoli florets on top of the dhal for the last 10 minutes of cooking.
  3. To serve, stir the tomato mixture into the dhal and broccoli, divide onto plates and top with the roasted vegetables.
Chicken, leek & parsley pie with a portion removed

Chicken, Leek & Parsley Pie

One of those great, plain pies that satisfy on a cold night.

Serves 4

2 medium leeks, cleaned and sliced

400g cooked chicken, torn into bite sized pieces

50g butter

3 tbsp flour

400ml chicken stock

20g parsley, chopped

Salt & pepper

300g puff pastry

  1. Pre heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy based pan over a medium heat, add the leeks and cook for a few minutes until softened.
  3. Add the flour, stir into the leeks and cook again for a few minutes to cook out the flour.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and add the stock. Stir well to stir out any lumps, then put back onto a medium high heat and bring to the boil, stirring all the time.
  5. Remove from the heat, add the parsley, season with salt & pepper, then stir in the chicken. Tip into a pie dish.
  6. Roll the pastry out slightly larger than the pie dish. Cut some strips from the pastry, with a little water, wet the edge of the pie dish and stick the strips around the edge of the dish. Brush the pastry edging with a little more water and drape over the remaining piece of pastry.
  7. Press the pastry gently around the rim of the dish. Brush with egg wash, decorate with pastry scraps if you have time. Brush again with egg wash.
  8. Put the pie into the oven and bake for 30 mins, until golden brown.
A bowl of smooth Roasted Root Soup

Roasted Root Soup

I love the colour of this soup – beetroot pink! Use a combination of whatever roots you have in the fridge.

Serves 4 to 6

1.5Kg mixed root vegetables – I used 2 potatoes, 2 beetroot, 3 carrots, 2 onions, 1 sweet potato, ¼ turnip and ¼ celeriac.

Drizzle of oil

Salt & pepper

Chicken or vegetable stock to cover

1 tsp fresh thyme

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400/Gas6
  2. Cut the vegetables into bite size pieces, drizzle over a little oil, salt & pepper, give everything a good mix. Put in the oven for 45 mins.
  3. Once cooked, transfer the vegetables to a large pot, add the stock and thyme, bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 mins, then blitz with a hand blender. Check seasoning and serve.
A glass dish showing layers of tomato & spinach lasagne

Spinach & Tomato Lasagne

This is an old favourite, I have lightened the recipe by using cornflour to thicken the sauce and using only a little cheese.

Serves 6 – 8

Tomato sauce

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 medium carrots, finely diced

2 sticks celery, finely diced

1 tbsp oil

1 large red pepper, finely diced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tin chopped tomatoes

3 tbsp tomato puree

½ tsp dried mixed herbs

1 tsp soft brown sugar

Salt & pepper to taste

Spinach sauce

8 blocks frozen spinach, defrosted

500ml milk

3 heaped tbsp cornflour

3 cloves

2 bay leaves

1 tsp grated nutmeg

Salt & pepper to taste

50g mature cheddar cheese, grated

Approx. 9 sheets lasagne

1.       Make the tomato sauce: heat the oil in a heavy based pan. Add the finely chopped onion, carrot, celery pepper and garlic. Fry for a few minutes.

2.       Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, mixed herbs and soft brown sugar. Stir to combine, bring to a simmer. Put a lid on the pan and turn the heat down low. Simmer for 20mins.

3.       Make the spinach sauce: Pour the milk into a heavy based pan, add the cloves, bay leaves & grated nutmeg, heat gently until the milk is a simmering point. Remove the cloves & bay leaves.

4.       Add enough water to the cornflour to make a paste the consistency of cream. Add it slowly to the hot milk, stirring continuously until the sauce thickens and boils for a few seconds. Remove from the heat.

5.       Chop the spinach and add to the sauce. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

6.        Pre heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas5

7.       Layer up the lasagne by spooning a layer of tomato sauce into the bottom of an oven proof dish approx. 24 x 19cm. Cover with a lasagne sheets. Add a layer of spinach sauce & a layer of tomato sauce & more lasagne. Repeat again to finish the tomato sauce, cover with lasagne, then finish with the remaining spinach sauce. Sprinkle over the cheese.

8.       Bake in the oven for 45 mins or until the lasagne is hot, bubbling and browned on top. Once ready, remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 mins before serving.

Scrambled eggs cooked in a red pepper & tomato sauce, baked with feta cheese

Scrambled Egg Shakshuka

My children are not great egg eaters. They will however eat scrambled eggs quite happily. Shakshuka is normally made by poaching the eggs in the sauce. It works equally well with scrambled.

Serves 4

4 to 8 eggs, depending on whether you have big eaters or not.

½ tsp caraway seeds

1 tbsp olive oil + extra for drizzling

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 red pepper, thinly sliced

Pinch of chilli flakes, or to taste

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp sweet smoked paprika

1 large ripe tomato, chopped

1 tin cherry tomatoes in juice

50g feta cheese

2 tbsp coriander leaves

  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a heavy based frying pan. Fry the caraway seeds for a few seconds, then add the sliced onion and pepper. Fry for a few minutes to soften and start to colour.
  2. Add the ground cumin, smoked paprika & chilli flakes. Stir and add the chopped tomato. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the tinned cherry tomatoes.
  3. Simmer gently for 20 minutes without a lid to allow the juices to reduce and the flavour to intensify.
  4. Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6
  5. One at a time, beat each egg with a little salt & pepper, make a dip in the tomato mixture and fill with the scrambled egg.
  6. Once all the eggs are in the pan, crumble over the feta cheese and put the pan into the oven. Cook for 10mins.
  7. Remove from the oven, sprinkle over the coriander and serve.
A gigot lamb chop, slow cooked with red onions, cranberries and rosemary

Slow Cooked Cranberry & Rosemary Lamb Chops

Most lamb chops are cooked pink, but if you like yours well done, or your lamb is a little tough, a long slow cook makes it melt in the mouth tender.

Serves 2

2 gigot lamb chops

2 tsp oil

1 small onion, thinly sliced

30g cranberries

150ml red wine or stock

1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 small clove garlic, finely chopped

  1. Heat the oven to 150C300F/Gas2
  2. Pat the lamb chops dry with a piece of kitchen paper and season with salt & pepper on both sides.
  3. Take a heavy based frying pan and heat 1 tsp oil on a high heat until just smoking. Add the chops to the pan and turn the heat down a little. Sear for 2 minutes on each side to colour and seal the meat. Remove from the pan to a casserole dish.
  4. Add the other tsp oil to the pan, and fry the onion & garlic to soften and colour a little.
  5. Add the wine and bubble for a few seconds. Stir in the cranberries and rosemary. Bring to the boil and pour over the lamb. Cover and bake in the oven for about 1 ½ hours, or until the meat is tender.
  6. Strain the sauce from the lamb and onions into the frying pan. Keep the lamb warm. Boil the sauce down to about 5 or 6 tablespoons.
  7. To serve, arrange the lamb chops with their onions & cranberries on 2 warm plates, spoon over the sauce to serve.
A bowl of finely sliced red cabbage tossed with daikon radish, carrot, gem lettuce & soy ginger dressing

Japanese Winter Red Cabbage Salad

I like red cabbage, but not always stewed. Finely shredding it into a salad is a delicious way of making the most of its’ vibrant red colour.

Serves 4


¼ small red cabbage

½ gem lettuce

5cm piece daikon radish, or 4 pink radishes

1 small carrot

3 tbsp coriander leaves

1 spring onion, finely sliced

1 tsp sesame seeds

Soy & Ginger Dressing

2 tsp grated root ginger

½ tbsp malt vinegar

1 tbsp sugar

½ tbsp light soy

½ tbsp dark soy

1 tbsp tomato ketchup

1 tsp lemon juice

  1. Shred the cabbage and put into a salad bowl. Add shredded gem lettuce, grated daikon and carrot, finely sliced spring onion and coriander leaves. Toss well, sprinkle over the sesame seeds and drizzle over the dressing.
A tray of roasted vegetables topped with cod and crispy bacon.

Tray Baked Cod with Roasted Vegetables & Bacon

A one pan dish, what’s not to like. Squeeze over the roasted lemon for extra flavour. If you’re cooking for more than 1 person, either use individual fillets of cod or 1 big piece.

Per person

1 thick cod fillet

1 med potato

1 med carrot

1 med beetroot

¼ tsp vegetable bullion powder

Drizzle of oil

½ lemon

1 rasher smoked back bacon

Salt & pepper

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 220C/425/Gas7
  2. Cut the vegetables into bite size pieces, sprinkle over the vegetable bullion, salt & pepper & drizzle with oil. Add the lemon, toss everything well together and put into the oven. Roast for 30 to 40 mins or until the vegetables are cooked al dente.
  3. Pat the fillet of cod dry with a piece of kitchen paper, season with salt & pepper.
  4. Cut the bacon rasher into thin strips and scatter over the cod.
  5. Once the vegetables are ready, nestle the cod into the pan. Return to the oven for 15mins.
  6. Remove from the oven, allow to rest for 5 mins, before serving.